HEALTH & CARE

Buprenex for Cats: Comforting Your Cat in the Midst of Pain

Buprenex for cats
Steve Corelli
Written by Steve Corelli

If there is anything that scares a cat owner, that would be their furry friend getting sick. Sometimes, no matter how we try to keep them in the best of health, our cats can get sick and in pain. During times like this, veterinarians often administer strong medication to help relieve our pet’s pain and discomfort, and one such drug is commonly known as Buprenex for cats.

Because cats have a naturally laid-back personality, sickness is often left unattended until the pain gets worse and our cats start exhibiting obvious signs of distress. At this point, the pain may be great enough for the cat to need pain relief medication with an extra punch, yet still safe for pets as long as administered in the correct dosage. That’s where Buprenex comes in.

In this article, we will have a thorough look at Buprenex as a feline medication—what it is, how it is used, indication, as well as its side-effects. Since veterinarians may often prescribe this as a take-home medication, we will also be discussing some techniques you can follow when administering it to your beloved felines.

What is Buprenex?

black cat after surgery

Buprenex is a common brand name for buprenorphine, which is a semi-synthetic opioid. Opioids act as painkillers. It is a strong analgesic substance that is used to reduce the perceived sensation of pain.

Buprenex, like morphine and Codeine, is extracted from the poppy plant, which is a somniferous herb used for healing.

Buprenex is used by most humans to relieve acute and chronic pain. It is often administered after a surgical operation and is also used to help those who are heroin addicts to safely detach from their habits. It blocks receptors in the nervous system and brain which normally signals pain, injury, and sickness.

While most opioids cause bradypnea or slow respiratory rate, Buprenex happens to be the exception. Plus, research shows that Buprenex is 30 to 50 times more potent than morphine. Whew! That’s strong!

It is for this reason that Buprenex should only be used during extreme pain. Because, like other opioids, unsupervised use may lead to addiction.

The Use of Buprenex for Felines

injection for a cat

Over the years, Buprenex is known to have many documented applications. The FDA only approves Buprenex for human use. When it comes to animals, veterinarians are allowed to dispense it, provided they adhere to the rules under the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act.

However, you should always keep in mind that this drug should not be given to cats that are very young or very old.

In case you have a cat who is nursing kittens, you may want to find a bottle that you can use to feed the babies, or look for another momma cat to foster the kittens. This is to keep the kittens from reabsorbing the drug through their mother’s milk.

Aside from the above restrictions, the ability of Buprenex in relieving pain for animals is well documented. This is the reason why this drug is regularly used in veterinarian communities to manage pain during postoperative periods.

In this regard, Bupronex is used for felines, in the same manner, it is used for humans. In fact, this generally applies to most pain medications.

Buprenex, like the rest of the drugs belonging to the opioid family, blocks the pain receptors in cats the same exact way it does to humans. Because the part of the brain which registers pain is quite the same with all mammals, cats and humans should react and respond to pain medication the same way.

However, it is always safer to say that human pain medication should be limited to human use until a vet says otherwise.

Vets often mix Ketamine and Buprenex with other drugs to anaesthetize animals for surgery.

Buprenex for Cats Dosage

In case your vet has given the okay to administer Buprenex on your cat, or in case this is an emergency, the Buprenex for cats dosage you can give to your cat will be decided based on certain considerations.

Generally therapeutic when used in proper doses, you need to keep in mind that Buprenex is a very strong pain medication and that there is always the possibility of overdose. It is routinely administered as a traumatic pain medication usually after surgery, or to relieve chronic pain that is associated with diseases like cancer.

The prescribed dosage largely depends on the medical reason Buprenex is being administered. A cat that that is being treated for post-operative pain should receive a higher dosage than a feline who is suffering from a chronic condition since the latter will probably have to be on the medication for a longer period.

Moreover, dosages will also depend on the feline’s weight and overall health.

Because the FDA does not give approval on the use of Buprenex for animals, they do not provide any information when it comes to the drug’s dosing on cats. However, DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) in the UK suggests that the usual dose of Buprenex for cats should be around 10 to 20 micrograms per kg of body weight.

This is only a guide, though. The exact dosage of Buprenex you may give to your cat depends largely upon your vet’s discretion. For your pet’s safety and well-being, you should never try to decide on a dose by yourself.

How is Buprenex Administered to Cats?

During post-operative procedures, Buprenex is usually injected to the cat by a trained professional. This is done to ensure that the drug gets into the bloodstream as quickly as possible. This means that a sick cat will less likely lose the effects of pain medication.

After operation and discharge, your cat may still be needing medication to manage post-operative pain. In which case you might be given Buprenex to take with you and administer at home.

As with all medication, keep in mind to follow the exact instructions of your vet when it comes to dosage. If you’re in doubt about how much and how often the medication should be given, it is always best to get in touch with the vet for advice.

Now we will discuss the different ways you can administer Buprenex at home. No one likes taking medicines. This includes cats. For many cat owners, giving pills or liquid medication is one of the most dreaded parts of caring for a cat. But don’t worry because the guide we’ve prepared below will make things easier:

#1: Rubbing Against Gums

cat's gums

Because it can be easily destroyed by stomach acids, Buprenex is usually not given orally.

However, because a cat’s saliva has a relatively high pH level, your veterinarian may decide to prescribe a tablet or solution you can rub on your pet’s gums. This process usually takes about 45 minutes to take effect, and relief normally lasts for up to six hours.

#2: Oral Syringe

cat wirh syringe

Your vet may administer it as a buccal treatment using an oral syringe. This medication can also be flavored like liver or chicken to help get your cat to cooperate.

Drug concentrations differ between products and individual pets, and the right dosage is something that can only be determined by a professional vet.

To administer Buprenex oral for cats, place the tip of a syringe or dropper into the corner of the cat’s mouth then aim for the pocket between the gums and the cheek. Slowly squirt the medicine in while letting the cat swallow several times.

See Also: How to Syringe Feed a Cat

#3: Pills

pill for a cat

Some cats have personalities that make them a lot easier to pill than others. But in general, helping the cat cooperate when taking medicine is a lot less of a problem if you follow the guidelines below.

For this procedure, you will be needing the pill, a piece of meat or cheese, and of course, a cat.

  • Kneel comfortably on the floor and sit on your heels with your knees apart. Place the back of the cat towards and close to you.

  • Gently grasp your cat’s cheekbones using your left hand, while keeping your palm facing down. If you’re left-handed, you can do this step using your right hand.

  • Hold the pill firmly using your right thumb and index finger.

  • Insert your fingernail and place it between your cat’s upper and lower teeth, then push the pill further down the feline’s throat using your index finger. Take extra care not to scratch your cat’s throat with your fingernails. Wrapping the pill with a piece of meat or cheese is another great way of tricking your feline into thinking that they are just getting another treat.

  • Remove your hand quickly and to have the cat swallow the pill in surprise.

  • Keep the feline’s head pointed upwards for a few seconds while gently massaging the throat downwards.

Now you can have fun with your healthy and happy feline buddy.

Precautions and Side-Effects

sick cat

One reason why many vets opt to prescribe Buprenex is because of its relatively lower risk for Buprenex for cats side effects as compared with other pain medications. But while it is generally effective and safe when prescribed by a professional vet, it can still have possible implications just like with any other meds.

Apart from this, it should also be noted that the health implications of long term Buprenex use are yet to be evaluated.

#1: Blocking Other Opioids

One of the main side effects of Buprenex is that it can block the effects of other opioids. Because of its slow release and lasting effect, it can cause the inability of other opioids to bind properly with receptors in the nervous system.

If a cat that is on Buprenex needs additional pain relief, this can be a problem because opioids are usually the choice for quick relief of pain.

#2: Liver Issues

Metabolism of Buprenex happens in your cat’s liver, and because any other drug processed the same way can interact negatively, liver failure becomes a risk factor if your cat is taking other medication. For this reason, it is vital to inform your vet before surgery if your cat is receiving other medications.

#3: For Pregnant or Nursing Cats

nursing cat

Previous tests and research that involved lactating rats have shown that Buprenex has the potential of making its way to the milk produced by a lactating animal. Although this has not been performed on other animals, it is still worthy of concern.

In case you have a mom cat that needs an operation, it would be wise to discuss this with your vet before starting on Buprenex.

#4: Withdrawal

Another serious issue concerning the use of Buprenex is withdrawal. Since dependence is always a potential with opioid use, cats who suffer from long term use due to chronic pain may have to deal with withdrawal issues.

While in the withdrawal stage, cats usually appear to be in poor health and therefore need extra care to improve their overall condition.

#5: Overdose

sleeping cat

As mentioned above, if there is anything to fear about Buprenex usage, it’s the potential for overdose. One of the most serious signs of Buprenex overdose is difficulty in breathing.

There are medications like Naloxone which can neutralize the effects of an overdose. However, quick action needs to be done, because as it goes further, the untoward effects of overdose worsen.

Fortunately, there are many signs that signal the possibility of a cat suffering from an actual Buprenex overdose. This includes obvious lack of coordination, sickness, and excessive salivation.

The good news is that Buprenex overdose is exceptionally rare. Due to strict guidelines and regulation set on the usage and administration of opioids, it has become quite unlikely for your cat to suffer from a Buprenex overdose.

Due to the lack of FDA rating, vets have created their own based on their studies, in accordance with the guidelines of other countries. Regulations restricting the average person from just buying Buprenex for their cats without prescription has been set in place. This greatly lessens any potential harm to your pets.

#6: Other Precautions

  • Buprenex should never be used for animals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to the drug.

  • It should not be administered to cats with known kidney disease, Addison’s disease, or an underactive thyroid gland.

  • Extra care and caution should be used when giving Buprenex to cats with poor cardiovascular function, head trauma, cats who are extremely old, or those with severely debilitating conditions.

  • Because this drug is metabolized in the liver, it should be used with extra caution on felines with existing liver disease.

  • Because it can interact with other medications, always consult with your veterinarian first if any of the medications your cat may be receiving can potentially interact with Buprenex. These drugs may include certain tranquilizers, antihistamines, barbiturates, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors.

  • As with other opiates, there are times when Buprenex can cause bradypnea or slow breathing.

  • Sedation is known to be the most common side-effect that comes with using Buprenex.

  • Other possible side effects can include an increase in heart rate, blood pressure drop, body temperature changes, hyperactivity, or anorexia.

  • Overdose can happen but is extremely rare.

Wrap Up

orange cat and medicine

When your cat is sick or in pain, your main concern is to provide him comfort, and this often comes from being able to give him quick and effective pain medication. Buprenex is known in the veterinary world as one of the best allies in combatting pain for postoperative and chronically ill felines.

When It comes to pain relief, it can accomplish what only a few medications can do. It’s slow release, and lasting effect make it the best choice in managing fluctuating degrees of pain.

Although Buprenex may come with a few side effects, this is often outweighed by its benefits. Just remember that aside from proper medication, your care and compassion are the most important things your cat needs to get better, so they can be well enough to live a long and happy feline life.

Having read all the facts relating to Buprenex, what do you think about administering it to your cat? Also, check out our article on how to tell if a cat is in pain, so you’ll be able to decide when you need to administer Buprenex.

About the author
Steve Corelli
Steve Corelli

Steve Corelli is a Pet Nutrition Expert from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many nutritional strategies for different breeds and a member of some Pet Food development teams. His Maine Coon Stephan, as you might guess, is always well-fed.

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